Ebenezer Shoobridge purchased Bushy Park in 1867 and introduced hops which his father William Shoobridge first brought to Tasmania from Kent in 1822. The initial venture in West Hobart on 20 acres growing hops in Hobart was not successful due to a lack of water. Bushy Park was found to be perfect with the combination of soils and plentiful water from the Derwent and Styx rivers.
William’s Shoobridge journey to Van Diemens Land in 1822 was tragic. His pregnant wife Mary gave birth to a baby that did not survive and then she died along with two more of their children. William arrived with three boys and three girls with Ebeneezer being two at that time. William died in 1837(born in 1781) leaving Ebenezer at 16 to manage a number of farms prior to establishing in Bushy Park.
Ebenezer had two wives and with his first wife Charlotte had 8 children, William Ebenezer, Robert Wilkins Giblin, Louis Manton, Jessie, Kate, Annie, Emily and Margaret.
Hawthorn Lodge was built in 1869 for Robert Shoobridge the son of Ebenezer Shoobridgewho worked with his father. They wanted to create Hawthorn Lodge in an attractive style to provide comfort and warmth. Landscaped gardens were made to create a grandness in the Tasmanian bush and remind the family of Kent in the UK. Early plantings were oaks, elms, birches, pines, redwoods, magnolias and ornamental shrubs.
At the rear of the house were the farm buildings, including a store room for the mens rations which were issued twice a week and included 12lbs of meat, 4 loaves of bread, a quarter pound of tea, 2lb of sugar, flour and salt. On either side of the central garden were extensive vegetable gardens and orchards containing numerous experimental varieties.
The back yard of Hawthorn Lodge was presided over by “Old Hardwick”. He would pay 5 shillings for any black snakes brought to him, dead or alive and kept one hanging on a nail outside his room.
Hardwick also looked after the carriages which were many including the milk cart, pony cart and the largest that could take 20 on family picnics.
The house was built of locally made bricks as a single storey. All the ground floor rooms had two doors as a precaution against the bushrangers who were living in this area in the early days.
In 1878 Ann Benson Mather Shoobridge with her husband William Shoobridge took Hawthorn Lodge over from Robert Shoobridge.They had 9 children and sadly one daughter Sarah Charlotte born in 1878, was dropped down the stairs at Hawthorn Lodge whilst a baby and was an invalid for her whole life and died in 1941. William Shoobridge led a very productive and distinguished life dying aged 94 in 1940.
The house was always busy with the large family and many visitors learning to farm from William who had become recognised as one of the leading farmers in Tasmania. William would serve up a half sheep to feed the gatherings.
Tennis, croquet, bicycle races and horse riding were all very popular each summer weekend. In the winter, charades and impromptu concerts where all were encouraged to take part.
Best clothes were worn on Sunday and all went to St Augustine’s Chapel next to the Styx River. William and Annie would ride on the pony cart and the rest of the family would walk.
William collected each day meteorological records and are some of the earliest in Tasmania. The weather station at Bushy Park continues to this day.
Behind Hawthorn Lodge is the 3 km water race built by William Shoobridge which takes water from a dam on the Styx River and runs to the Oast House to power the waterwheel (still there) which generated power to dry the hops and electricity for the village. It is claimed that Bushy Park had electricity before Hobart.
William Shoobridge created an irrigation system for hops and apples that altered the dryness of the deep porous soil. By 1879, hops and apples were being exported from Bushy Park to London making use of the cool chamber fitted on the Warwickshire. This was the start of a major trade to UK from Australia.
William Shoobridge is acknowledged with developing the ‘cup’ pattern technique of pruning. In 1892, he became the first president of the Tasmanian Agricultural Council and his knowledge as an irrigation engineer was in big demand. His weather keeping records that began in 1873 and continued for 50 years gained him a place in the International Scientists’ Directory.
The distinguished octagonal ‘Text Kiln’ designed by EbeneezerShoobridge was finished in 1867. The design was by his son William Shoobridge who was clearly a gifted engineer. The Text Kiln was also used for Sunday church services with stone tablets in the brickwork displaying biblical texts. Shoobridge attracted inspiration from the scriptures and a keen educator of others in the value of religion.
Next to the Text Kiln is a pond created as insurance in case of fire which is a high risk when drying hops.The house Ebeneezer lived in was close to the Text Kiln but destroyed in floods.
The Shoobridge family conducted each year a strawberry banquet at the Bushy Park for his workers at the hop barn. The end of the hop picking finished with a Kentish hop festival with poles garlanded with hops and bedecked with colourful laces and ribbons carried about in a procession in the middle of chaotic cheering. A meal, with singing and music brought the night to its close.
Most hop pickers were ladies who could earn equal pay to men.
Together the Shoobridge family made Bushy Park the biggest producer of hops in Australia and Hawthorn Lodge a place where much of the early Tasmanian agricultural ideas were discussed amongst the innovative farmers.
The original farm buildings are at the back of Hawthorn Lodge and the small rooms you see where some of the workers lived.
The 1890’s were hard for William Shoobridge and in 1903 half the property was sold to Oakley Fysh and in 1904 Hawthorn Lodge and Bushy Park was sold to Oakley’s father. in 1907 William and his sons bought Hawthorn Lodge back and the full Bush Park Estate in 1914.
Ebenezer died in 1901 and thought the pending sale of Bushy Park was a final devasting blow to him.
The Shoobridge family farmed the area until 1970 when overproduction caused problems and by 1980 all the established Hop properties were joined as one to create the Bushy Park Estates. In 1988 the current proprietors of the property, Haas Investments bought the property from Elders IXL and now farmed as Hop Products Australia.
Hawthorn Lodge has had in recent times a number of owners all who have worked hard to maintain the house and preserve the heritage features. The current owners David Hearle and Marie Bean purchased Hawthorn Lodge in November 2015 from David and Sandra who lived here for 5 years. Prior owners were Vic and Fiona. Both previous owners still visit the house, live locally and provide some of the preserves and cordials we serve.
To view the old village of Bushy Park and the Text Kiln turn right at the front entrance and then left at Ten Acre Lane. On the way you will pass the water wheel that was used to generate power to dry the hops and electricity for the village.
If you look beyond the front entrance the plants behind the houses are hop plants. They can also be seen on the roadside as you enter the village. For a view of the whole hop farm visit the cemetery behind Hawthorn Lodge for a good panorama. Hops are best seen in February and early March when they grow up the vines. They are harvested in early March and then remain small until they start growing again in the spring. Visit at harvest time to take in the delightful hop aroma.
Hawthorn Lodge is the setting for the property called Parklands in the book Wild Orchard the bestselling novel written by Isabel Dick (1881–1959). Wild Orchard is set in 1840. Parklands (the fictional name for Hawthorn Lodge) which Harriet (Harry) and Jan Halifax built. In the novel Harry and Jan arrive at the “lands” on bullock carts with possessions from Hobart to discover the cottage they had inherited has burnt down.
Harry with great strength says: ‘What does it matter? We can surely sleep in tents until another house is built. This is where we must have the house, Jan, on this bank where we can watch the sunset across the river. Look, just here, not back there with it hidden among the trees.’
‘Why, Harry, you’re right. This is the spot; and down there, acre after acre, my hop fields shall stand, easily irrigated from the river; the orchards shall be planted farther up where they have good drainage on the slopes”
Harry had only just arrived from Rochester in Kent a few weeks earlier. Wild Orchard recounts that transition and provides a good feel of what life was like in the early days of Hawthorn Lodge.
We have copies of the book in the lounge if you want to read the story.
The story whilst fictional is based on the early Shoobridge family, gleaned when Isabel stayed for many months at Hawthorn Lodge as a young girl.
The garden dates back to 1869 when Hawthorn Lodge was built. Shoobridge wanted to create grandness to contrast with the harshness of living in the bush at that time. Many of the trees and well established shrubs you see are imported and in some cases rare. The Magnolia is the oldest in Australia.
We also grow all our own produce and can be seen in the lower part of the garden. This we are expanding into the field where the horse can be seen. The deep loams and sheltered climate makes for easy growing. Much of our produce is used to create the relish you eat today, flavouring our homemade ice creams and the raspberry jam. We do sell the excess.
The horse in the paddock is very friendly and can be stroked. If there are apples on the ground, do feel free to pick up and feed.
The chickens love human contact and can be picked up. They might follow you around the garden.